Let Me Finish.

Presence and Listening

Presence and Listening

We had a get together with the neighbours over the weekend. The kids ate pizza and watched Toy Story while the grown ups sat out back drinking red wine and enjoying a blather. A few wines in, conversation turned to the Body Corporate and management of our building. Most of us there were, or had been, involved in the committee in some way and were all rather passionate about some aspect or other of the way our home was managed.

I found myself exuberantly bursting in about some thing or other when my neighbour Sara exclaimed, “Let me Finish”.

For a moment I was a little taken aback. Then I realised she was trying to say something, trying to be heard, and I was – whether intentional or not – talking over the top of her. I wasn’t listening.

It’s one of my worst traits. I’m one of six kids. I grew up in a chaotic household where dinnertime debates were loud, exuberant and typically he who shouted loudest got heard. While it armed me with the confidence to speak up and speak out, it left my listening skills lying largely dormant.

My colleague Tom, on the other hand, is much younger than me and far less inclined to jump in and over people in conversation. Instead he sits back. He listens quietly and with focus. Then he speaks up.

It has always floored me, just how insightful and on the mark his comments are. He doesn’t usually say that much. He doesn’t typically say it vey loudly. But what he does say always gets everyone’s attention.

Tom is my example and reminder about how important and powerful true listening can be. And while I have consciously chosen to take a leaf out of his book, the situation with my neighbour is a gentle reminder that it takes constant practice to be truly present with the person with whom you are conversing.

After all, we all want to feel heard.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

5 Breaths

Meditating Madly. Painting by Katherine Mair

Meditating Madly. Painting by Katherine Mair

Recently I decided to experiment with one of the simplest techniques there is to help us create space, cultivate clarity and foster a sense of calm.

I stopped and took 5 slow breaths 5 times a day for 5 days.

I put a reminder in my diary. Each time it went off, wherever I was, whatever I was doing, I stopped and took 5 slow breaths.

Sometimes this meant I was sitting at my desk working and I sat up, closed my eyes and did the exercise. Other times I was with my daughter, so simply stayed attentive to her and our interaction while breathing slowly and purposely for 5 breaths.

I have found it makes me feel more present. On those busy days where I had so much to do, I felt less frantic and more purposefully focussed.

Perhaps you’d like to give this a try. If you do, I’d love to hear what the effects were for you.

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Wired. Yet Switched Off.

Can we be too connected?

Can we be too connected?

How often do you check your phone?

I haven’t tried to count.  I know I would be downright ashamed.

It’s rather addictive isn’t it? This compulsive need to swipe, tap and check. We’ve conditioned ourselves to be wired. And if we are honest, we are wired pretty much all of the time, spurred on by this constant need to be connected, stay connected, remain connected.

The irony is that amidst all this ‘connectedness’ and wiring into technology we lose the most fundamental connection of all – the connection to our Selves.

The simple act of feeling our breath or sensing tension in our body or resistance in our mind becomes an almost impossible task.

I’ve often sat in a yoga class or relaxation exercise and been asked to “scan the body and notice how you feel”. In my early days of practice my mental answer to the teacher guiding such activity was rather simple; “sod off, I’m not feeling a bleedin’ thing!”

As I became more experienced though, this lack of feeling made me ask questions. Why do I find it so difficult to ‘feel’ my toes? Why is it so hard to focus my concentration on the movement of my breath in my body? What is preventing me from really feeling, really connecting, inside?

The answer is simple and it dawned on me as I stepped off the train and walked to work the other day.

We’re all just too wired. We are too connected. And ironically, the more wired we are, the more numb we become to our Selves.

Ponder it for a moment. Better still, try it. Stop whatever you are doing right now and shift all your attention to feel every nuance, sensation and bone in your left little toe. Challenging isn’t it?

So go on, do something just a little bit mad today. Switch everything off, even for a few minutes, so You can switch back on.

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

The Mad Mad World of Work

 

Stress Tension Corporate Burn out

Do You Need to Create Some Space in Your Day?

I met a friend for a drink the other night. She was late and clearly frazzled from a long, hard day. She works part time, but to ensure her 5pm sharp departure doesn’t create problems she starts work at 6.30am. So effectively she works four eleven hour days and then does even more on her supposed day off. That’s over 45 hours a week for a part time role.

The conclusion we drew was that the 9 to 5 working day is really a myth, an old-fashioned phrase from a bygone era.

The working day is getting longer. We are asked to do more. Do it faster. With less. Oh, and did I mention we’re also expected to stay connected 24/7.

Yet is this sustainable? Can we really work at such intensity and pace all of the time? When do we switch off? What is the effect when we don’t switch of? Or worse, what happens when we can’t switch off?

My friend confided that she can’t sleep. She also observed that as a senior manager in a large business, she’d never before had so many team members come to her frazzled, upset or on the verge or tears. Her senior colleagues are observing the same increase in stress and tension levels in their own teams.

At it’s extreme, corporate burn out can lead to physical tension, insomnia, anxiety and depression. I know. It happened to me after several years of sustained travel and long hours at an illustrious consulting firm.

And this is why people are increasingly turning to the practice of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. In a world more connected and switched on than ever before, we are ever more in need of tools to counteract the detrimental effects of running too hard and fast on our uber urban treadmill.

Just a few minutes using a simple deep breathing technique can calm the mind and help us to re-focus. Some basic postures sitting in a chair can help us to re-boot and re-energise. A short meditation has the power to create clarity and much needed internal space. Five or ten minutes of easy practice before bed can help induce sleep.

The practice doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It doesn’t have to be done on a mat or in a yoga studio. The tools of yoga can be harnessed by anyone, anywhere. More than ever there is a need to tap into the power of these practices. They can help us cut through the noise and create the space to focus on what really matters, and let go of what doesn’t, so we can more effectively navigate the mad mad world of work.

Take 5 slow deep breaths somewhere in your day today.

Best Regards,

Katherine Mair

M.A.D. Creator

Welcome to M.A.D. Mindworks

Live. Practice. Be MAD.

Live. Practice. Be MAD.

I discovered yoga at a gym. And after my first class, I walked out a little punch drunk, feeling like I’d been deeply pummeled by a powerful masseuse.

Then one day, after running a little too long and a little too fast on the treadmill of corporate work and urban life, I fell over. Overwhelmed with depression and exhaustion, it was yoga that saw me through the haze, shone a light in the dark, and enabled me to heal, re-focus and re-energise.

I have been MAD about yoga ever since and have experienced first hand the benefits of yoga in my work, studies and life.

That doesn’t make me perfect though. Some days I’m not as ‘yogi’ as I’d like to be. I still snap at my partner, lose patience with my daughter or am too pushy with my workmates. I once smoked (yes, cigarettes!) and I still enjoy a glass of wine or indulge in one too many pieces of chocolate. My body isn’t a perfect temple, deeply cleansed on the inside, or tirelessly taught on the outside.

But my journey in yoga has been a slow unfolding into the power of the practice. Like the pull of a soft light or that almost imperceptible voice deep down inside, it draws you gently and persistently in. To your Self. And your Potential.

I look forward to contributing to your exploration of the power of yoga to enable you to be more productive at work, more focused at school and more balanced in life.

Motivate. Activate. Dive In.

Go On. Be M.A.D.

With Love, Katherine

Tense & Release Relaxation

Dusk Sky in Tamworth December 2014

Dusk Sky in Tamworth December 2014

This 12 minute audio relaxation is based on the tense and release technique. Enjoy.